If you’re over stressing about food, jumping between dieting and binging, and just want to have a normal relationship with food, then intuitive eating can help.
Dieting (which is any way of trying to lose weight by restricting food) messes with your mind and metabolism, leaving dieters, especially repeated dieters feeling anxious around certain foods and in a cycle of either restricting or overeating. It’s a super stressful way to live (I know, I’ve been there!) but improving your relationship with food is definitely possible.
Intuitive eating is a specific intervention to improve your relationship with food and was created by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It has ten guiding principals designed to help you learn to understand and listen to your hunger/fullness cues change your mindset about food, clear distorted dieting messages and food rules and learn to find a way of eating and exercise that works for you.
Intuitive eating is one of those things that has many misconceptions. Intuitive eating isn’t just eat whatever you want without thinking about it like many people think. It’s also more than just listening to your hunger and fullness signals. Intuitive eating may sound a wee bit fluffy, but it’s an evidence based way of eating that improves both mental and physical health – yah!
Research shows that intuitive eating can:
- Improve body image
- Reduce binge and emotional eating
- Keep weight stable
- Improve blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiorespiratory fitness
Here’s a closer look at the 10 principals of intuitive eating.
Reject the diet mentality
It’s time to throw away your scales and diet books. Rejecting the diet mentality is about acknowledging diets just don’t work and making the move to rid of tools and beliefs that keep you going back to the next weight loss diet. Weight loss in the vast majority of cases is unsustainable and within 2-5 years most people have regained all of the weight they’ve lost, sometimes more.
Putting desires for weight loss on the back burner is necessary to help heal your relationship with food. Intuitive eating instead lets your body find it’s set point weight and also helps work towards improved body image.
Honour your hunger
Listening to your body signals, starting with your hunger cues is an important starting place in intuitive eating. In my experience, many people can only hear their hunger when it becomes hangry or they ignore it until they are super starving. Hunger is our primal sign to eat, so learning to listen and respond appropriately is a key step in becoming in tune with our bodies. When we are in tune with our hunger and fullness cues we learn to eat the right amount for our bodies.
Challenge the food police
The food police isn’t those helpful, peace making officers. The food police are the bad cops messing with your relationship with food. Those voices that tell you not to eat x food because will make you gain weight, or that you need to do an extra workout to deserve your meal out. In intuitive eating you learn to challenge negative voices and replace them with more helpful thoughts that don’t make you freak out about food.
Make peace with food
Do you feel like you can’t keep a packet of chocolate biscuits in the house because you’ll just sit down and eat the whole thing? Making peace with food means allowing ALL foods in your diet that you want to eat. It helps you get to that place where you can eat biscuits (or whatever the food may be) without feeling like the cookie monster and feeling guilty afterwards. It takes the stress away from food so you can enjoy it for what it is – just food!
Respect your fullness
Learning to recognise when you are comfortably full is the basis of this concept. It may sound obvious but if you’ve been in the dieting mentality for a long time, then it’s likely that you may often eat past the feeling of comfort, especially when it comes to foods you enjoy that you feel are ‘bad’.
Discover the satisfaction factor
Satisfaction is often the forgotten component when it comes to nutrition. When your meals are satisfying both taste wise and physically you are less likely to want to eat when you’re not hungry. Low calorie ‘filler foods’ are unlikely to be satisfying or filling alone and you’ll probably want to eat ten times more than if you had something that was truely satisfying. This principal explores putting together satisfying meals and food combinations.
Honour your feelings without using food
While food can help soothe emotions or provide relief from boredom it’s important to make sure it’s not the ONLY tool in your toolbox for dealing with emotions. Learning to tell between real hunger and emotional hunger and what you really need is a part of this component as well as coming up with a plan for soothing without food.
Respect your body
We all have a set point weight range that decides our body size. Respecting our body means learning to live in the body we have and appreciate it for all that it can do with. This section will help you improve your body image and help you feel more comfortable in the body you have.
Exercise – feel the difference
- If you have used exercise primarily in the past as a way to burn calories and ‘earn’ food, this section looks at exercise differently. Instead of being focused around how your body looks, is about learning to find enjoyable exercise that makes you feel good and for health reasons. It also incorporates including more incidental activity.
Honour your health – gentle nutrition
- Nutrition is purposefully left till the end in intuitive eating because we need to change our thinking first, otherwise it’s super easy to turn nutrition into diet rules. This section ties everything all together so you can explore nutrition and find a way of eating that works for you and nourishes your body.
If you’re ready to throw away the scales, ditch diet rules and improve your relationship with food, then I can help. Register your interest for our online group intuitive eating coaching programme starting September 2018 – numbers will be strictly limited in order to provide a close knit group where there’s time for plenty of questions and reflection during coaching sessions.